Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Hotel in London

How many hotels do you think are in London? I have no idea but when I typed the words London and hotel into google, I got back 70,500,000 results. Also, considering it's a city of 14 million people, I'm guessing there are a lot of hotels.

I've stayed in exactly two of them.

The other night I was watching a movie: Last Chance Harvey. It was a nice and sweet movie. As I was watching, Dustin Hoffman's character checked into his hotel in London. It was the Maida Vale Marriott, where I have stayed.

What are the chances?

When Adam got home I asked him if I was right. Isn't that the Maida Vale Marriott?

Why yes, it is.

Later, when I was finishing the movie (I watch romantic comedies in installments because Adam doesn't like them all that much and I don't want to watch a movie when I could be with Adam!) Adam saw that the characters were walking from the hotel to Trafalgar Square to the Millennium Bridge to an unknown (to me) location across the Thames.

Adam said, "They should have taken the 7 bus."

I told him he's a show off.

He knows how to navigate well in foreign cities and I have to consult google maps when I'm venturing to somewhere exotic--like downtown Everett.


Friday, October 30, 2009

A Mother's Heart

I just got off the phone with my mom.

She's in the hospital, recovering from swine flu and pneumonia (oh, my!).

Being a mother is who my mother is. And now that she's on the mend, she's busy mothering the nurses.

My mom told me about several of them, the connections she's made with them (Her mother grew up in Starr Valley. Do you remember this family? Her husband works with Edgar...possibly).

My mom has been busy.

She told me about one nurse that she's worried about. She's a single mother, raising three little boys. My mom told me what a great mother this nurse is. My mom is concerned about the difficulties of raising her children alone. Her heart aches for this nurse who works night shifts and then goes home to get her children off to school. Then she started worrying about the hill this nurse will need to traverse to go to and from work when it snows. She was relieved when the nurse told my mom she ordered studded tires.

My mom.

I'm sure all of these nurses love her and are happy to be welcomed under her comforting wings.

Just like I always was. Just like my mom's students when she was a teacher. Just like her coworkers now that she's an accountant.

She's a mother. And a magnetic one that attracts those who need mothering.

The Second Outing

One year on Christmas Eve, we lived in the Bay Area. Our children (ages 3 and 1) were nestled all snug in their beds, envisioning sugarplums and Adam and I flipped on the TV. On PBS, they were broadcasting Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Donny Osmond. We were delighted and decided Braeden would love it too. Though he was 3 and though it was late, we woke him up and brought him to the couch to watch it with us.

And thus it began.

Our family's love affair with Joseph.

We bought the video and our kids know practically all of it. When the opportunity arose to take them to the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle to watch it, we were fortunate enough to be able to go (Go, Go Joe!).

We had a great time (and had fun seeing a lot of our friends).

a hold-back-your-arm-and-take-a-self-portrait we took before the usher told us no cameras inside the theater

And I wore The Shoes.

Mark remembered when we walked in the door at home that I'd promised him a treat if he was good and Braeden and Emma (I know, who's surprised?) were hungry. So we all had pop-tarts and milk except Adam. He was disdainful of pop-tarts at 11:00 at night.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The First Outing

I decided to take my Traveling Shoes on some travels to some of my favorite places.

This morning I started school early, skedaddled through educating the children (I had to insist to Mark that the 5 he had erased and written three times to try to get it perfect was good enough--how did I get children with perfectionist tendencies?), left my kids with lists of work to do and hit the road.

My destination was over the river and through the woods to Snohomish. It was not sandal wearing weather by any stretch of the imagination but I bravely wore them.

It was rainy.

One thing I've learned from living around here though is that you can't wait until it stops raining before you do what you want to do.

You'd never do anything.

There are two things I love in Snohomish, the antiques and Joy Works.

Joy Works is a delightful confection of a store that I wander through with a smile on my face. I love everything inside that store.

While I was there I found some art by a Seattle artist that I fell in love with. I bought myself this necklace that reminds me of my sisters. I'll wear it when I miss them. (everyday)

After Joy Works, I rambled through some antiques. I really like old stuff. Some of it is beautiful, some of it is hideous and some of it is just quirky. I get in sort of a trance as I poke through piles of old books and old dishes and old linens and old toys. It makes me happy.

There was one alarming thing along the way:

These are exactly like the lunchbox and thermos I took to Mrs. Jund's first grade classroom every day.

And they're antique?

Notice the price tags--$49.95 for the lunchbox, $9.95 for the thermos.

I wonder how much my mom paid for them back when dinosaurs were roaming the earth and I was a first grader?

Stay tuned for another adventure with the shoes...they're hitting the town tonight!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The More I Have to Do, the More I Neglect It

I find that my favorite way to neglect tasks is to blog.

So here I go. Here's a story about a cute little boy:

He's the sharpshooter on the left.

He's about 7 or 8.

At least that was how old he was last time I checked.

Something happened while I wasn't looking because he took this pretty girl to the prom:

Turned into a builder (of igloos and concrete parking structures):

Then married the same gorgeous woman he took to the prom:

Then somehow, this picture showed up on my screen:

My baby brother, the one who's still about 7 or 8 (at least that's what I thought), with maybe the cutest baby in the world:

Cormac Ammon Dahl

Yes, I'm a bit of a proud aunt.

This Boy

Yesterday I was feeling sad. Over something really kind of silly in the scheme of things but nevertheless. Sad.

And lonely.

Braeden found me with tears in my eyes. He sat on the futon in our school room and beckoned me over. He wrapped his increasingly long arms around me. He had me tell him all about it. I did, with my head resting on his increasingly broad shoulder. Then I felt a tear drop on my forehead.

From my twelve year old boy.

For as long as I live and as much as that boy ever aggravates me, I'll remember that teardrop.

Because no one, except for maybe Mark, loves me that much.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's a Big Secret

Last night Mark whispered in my ear: "I know a secret."

I whispered back, "What?"

He said, "In 12 days Aunt Whitney and Kelly are getting mar-ried."

I guess it was news to Mark.

He's going to be the ring bearer so this is his snazzy new suit. He got it last night and wanted to wear it for school today. He was sulky when I told him he couldn't then he looked in the mirror at himself and said, "niiiiiiiiiiice!" and cheered up.

It's possible he might be the most handsome ring bearer ever. I'm just saying.

A Story With A Moral

I bought Braeden some new jeans.

He said he didn't need new jeans, he had plenty.

I told him he did need new jeans because all of his jeans have holes in the knees.

He finally relented to wear the new jeans.

They are two inches too short...I'd bought them less than a month ago.

The moral to this story?

Don't feed your children. No good comes of it. They'll just need bigger clothes.

(and guess who has to buy them?)

Monday, October 26, 2009

This Morning At Our House...

...I am wishing I had adequate words to describe the movie Where The Wild Things Are. Go. Please go. Just don't take your children.

...our kitchen is about 2/3 of the way clean after yesterday when I made cookies, Adam made chicken tikka masala, Talia and Emma made a chocolate cake, and this morning everyone had breakfast. Wii fit age (based on my Wii bowling, tennis and baseball scores) is 53. 53! That stinks.

...Mark keeps wrapping his arms around my neck and nuzzling his face into mine and asking if he can have a piece of chocolate cake. is rainy and windy and blessedly silent at the construction site.

...Emma is playing The Entertainer on the piano. Over and over. And loudly.

...Braeden is depressed because his Wii fit age is higher than mine. (HAH!)

...we need to start school and soon or I'll regret the late start all day.

...but first I'm going to go put some socks on.

Friday, October 23, 2009

To My Tens of Readers

Here's the problem:

Though you are loved dearly by me, there aren't that many of you. I want some lucky person to get these shoes next but when you consider that they are size 9 (my tall and stately sisters haven't seen size 9 since their tween years...and there are some of you petite people with smaller feet...) and that they will be handed off to the next Traveling Shoe torch bearer, I'm wondering just how many takers I'll get to enter my drawing.

So here's my humble plea:

Will you help me spread the word? On your own blogs will you direct your readers my way to enter my drawing?

(Olivia, call me and I'll tell you how to do the link thing.)

All you (or the multitudes of participants you conjure up for me) have to do is enter a comment (on this post) and I'll enter you in my drawing to be held on January 22 so check back then to find out if you won!

Thank You!

Look! Look! Look!

They came!

And I love them.

In the package there was also a magazine (and I love magazines) and there was a box of turtles chocolates (and I love turtles and so do my children which is proving problematic) and now I love Christie.

I'm left with three questions regarding these shoes:

1-Where am I going to wear them (besides everywhere, obviously)?

2-How am I going to give them away (especially considering my bad success at finding a match for perfume?)

3-And finally, am I a scrupulous enough person to even keep the Sisterhood going? I mean these are cute shoes.

Time will tell.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Escape

Vacation is what you take when you can't take what you've been taking any longer.

I don't know who said it, but I believe it.

I needed a vacation. I told Adam I wanted to go somewhere sunny. Because of the sandals. And also because of the sunny aspect.

I proposed Las Vegas.

Adam gave me his best incredulous look.

And he's right. I don't like Las Vegas. It's the blight the rest of Nevada wishes it could just flick away but the internet is dripping with deals to Las Vegas. And it's sunny there.

But no (relax, Adam) I don't need to go somewhere but I did need to escape.


And since I thought I mostly wanted to escape from my children, I decided to escape to my children. (It's all about how you spin it in your head.)

We played hooky today.

No school.

We were eating pancakes when we should have been doing phonics and fractions.

Mark and I started MHOP (Mom and Mark's International House of Pancakes). He was the stirrer. He said we could have a restaurant where we ran out of everything except pancakes.

After breakfast Emma and I painted our fingers and toes.

I decided that blue, yellow and green nail polish makes me look sickly.

Braeden and I took goofy pictures with photo booth on the computer.

we're going to take this to the dentist next time we money on x-rays

a twelve year old boy's nightmare...two moms looking over his shoulder

me, trying to squeeze some wisdom into that brain

Emma joined us and things got more dramatic as they tend to do when Emma joins.

We had pizza at Alfy's about 2:30 in the afternoon (hey, we were on vacation).

I read aloud to them in front of the fire.

It was all so lovely and non stressful and I felt better than I'd felt in awhile.

And then.

The inevitable.

It was time to go to activity days (Emma) and swimming (Braeden and Mark). I rallied the troops to get ready. I enlisted Braeden's help in getting Mark ready because otherwise Mark wanders around aimlessly.

Soon Braeden was in the van, reading and waiting for us. Mark was getting his sandals on. We were heading out the door. It was time to go. I asked Mark where his swim bag was.

He looked at me like I had asked him where his alien twin was.

Never mind.

I asked Braeden if he had the swim bag.

More vacant looks.

I hurried up to Mark's bedroom, found the swim bag under the detritus in the closet, stuffed a towel in it and hurried back to the van, now late.

"Do you remember me telling you to get Mark ready?" I demanded of Braeden whose nose was deep in his book.

He looked up, startled. "Yeah, I did. I told him to get ready."

All of the sudden I needed another vacation but it was time for activity days and then swimming.

Nothing lasts forever. Not even goodwill.

But then I looked again at the pictures from today.

Some things last forever.

I do love this boy. I love all three of these aggravating little souls.

And I will forever.


I've been thinking about Connecticut.

We lived in Connecticut long enough ago that I look back on that time through rose colored glasses. Those halcyon days.

Connecticut was my favorite little shops in Mystic and seeking refuge on hot summer days at Hammonasset Beach or better, Misquamicut Beach in nearby Rhode Island. The waves lapped up excitement for toddlers and the breezes from the Long Island Sound lowered my shoulders into a relaxed ahhhhhhhhhh.

Connecticut was driving to Ridgefield to spend the afternoon with Mindy. It was dozens of church spires reigning above the city. Connecticut was meeting Lisa at the park or the beach. It was waiting with Braeden for Adam to come home from class in dappled light under the tall oak trees outside our brick apartment building on Prospect Street.

Connecticut was the best pizza on the planet and drives along the Merritt Parkway in its autumnal glory that made me want to cry and laugh and gasp and shout just for the beauty of it all.

Connecticut was climbing stairs to Apryl's apartment perched high about the parish house for The Center Church on the Green.

Connecticut was the New Haven Green surrounded by the fortress like Yale campus.

It was old cemeteries that fascinated and vistas from East Rock and West Rock.

Connecticut was the salad days of my motherhood. Braeden didn't wear jeans with the knees ripped out and stretched out t-shirts. I dressed him in denim overalls and corduroy pants and impossibly small little sweaters and jackets. He looked like Someone Whose Mother Cared. He was the center of my universe (which I'm still paying for) and taking him for strolls among the mansions on Edgehill Road was all it took to make us both supremely happy.

Connecticut was the birthplace of Emma, my own little Yankee Doodle Dandy.

It was where I finally grew up and left home (college with my sisters didn't feel as much like leaving home as being on the other side of the country in a city where I started out knowing exactly two people...Adam and Braeden).

Adam's going on a business trip (I'm blue)... Connecticut (I'm green--with envy).

So turquoise.

I tell myself that Mindy and Lisa and Apryl don't live there anymore anyway.

And I'd probably not remember where things were and get lost.

And remember how rude the cashiers were at Stop and Shop?

But the autumn! (which sort of twists the knife and salts the wound)


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Hummy

As I may have mentioned, we've been having a bit of Winnie the Pooh re immersion around here...and we've been introducing our kids to the original stories. (Only in bits and snatches though because their rooms have to be clean at night in order for Adam to read and that really doesn't happen very often.)

The other night Adam congratulated me on our children's reaction to the story he'd read them that left them laughing and laughing. He said, "You are doing something right because they got it."

I don't know if an appreciation for A.A. Milne is the gold standard of good parenting or if I can even take the credit for such an appreciation.

But I will.

I'll take all the credit I can get.

And Winnie the Pooh has been influencing me lately too.

I have tried to internalize this:

If you want to make a song more hummy, add a few tiddely poms.

Last night we had dinner by candlelight.

Everyone wondered why. I said, "Because we can."

I was snapping pictures of my unsuspecting family during dinner and they wondered why.

I told them it was a social experiment.

Blank looks on their faces.

I said, "I want to see if it's more hummy."

Blank looks.

"If I add more tiddely poms."

(They're pretty long suffering.)

Here are other tiddely poms I've added though...little things that aren't that big of deal but do indeed make things more hummy.

I really really love reading to my children and sometimes, in the crush of busy days, I let it slide. Well I really love doing it. And I'm not going to let it slide anymore.

On Saturday when I made Mark chocolate cupcakes (just because, that's why) I let him dye the frosting different colors. He stirred, I frosted, we both ate.

I've also started letting Mark get his favorite blanket and read his phonics sentences in a warm nest on my bed. I snuggle in with him and read to him there also.

They're all small things but I'm going to try to continue on my quest. To add more tiddely poms. To make things more hummy.

Because who doesn't like hummy?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chocolate Dessert

my mom

I'm having a family dinner party tomorrow. I was asking Olivia what I should make for dessert. (Because you've got to start with dessert and work your way up from also need to ask your sisters about the minutiae of's part of the job description.)

Olivia said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world, "Chocolate dessert. Everyone loves it."

And that's true.

We were raised on chocolate dessert and my sisters and I could probably make it blindfolded without arms. We've made it that many times.

So today I'm making chocolate dessert and thinking about my mom.

I am thinking about all of the things she taught me in her big kitchen with the mismatched dishes (that sort of drove me crazy).

She taught me to cook. She taught me to clean up after myself. She taught me to work together. She taught me that she needed me to help.

And that mattered to me.

Today dawned rainy and blustery and I felt like a growl-y bear. I think it's called Too Much Together Time with my children. I was trying to plan the next week's school work (which I'm supposed to do on Friday but never seems to happen). They were in and out of the schoolroom, up and down the stairs, teasing each other, making noise, asking me when it could be their turn on the computer.

I retreated where I retreat to...Adam.

He gathered me in his arms and told me it was going to be OK and what did I want him to do?

Mostly take the children away.

So he has. They're planning a concoction for dinner and are shopping for it and visiting grandma and are happy.

And so am I in my quiet kitchen to make chocolate dessert.

Except I'm thinking of my mom. And how she taught me to work. She didn't send me away.

Even though she had mismatched dishes, who's the better mother here?

I feel chastised.

As I was making the dessert, I realized how really simple it is. Not very fancy or complicated like a lot of the things that frequented my mom's kitchen.

Then it hit me.

My mom wasn't making fancy desserts, she was raising daughters.

And it was simple enough for us to make.

Sheesh. I still have a lot to learn.

Lessons from my mother's big kitchen with mismatched dishes (that sort of drove me crazy).

Chocolate Dessert

1 c. flour
1/2 c. butter
1 c. chopped nuts
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
8 oz. Cool Whip
1 small package vanilla instant pudding
1 small package chocolate instant pudding
3 c. milk

Mix flour, butter and nuts. Press into a 9x13 pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Beat together cream cheese and sugar. Add 1/2 Cool Whip. Spread on cooled crust. Mix puddings and milk. Beat 2 minutes. Spread on cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until set. Spread with remaining Cool Whip and garnish with chocolate shavings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Out Standing In the Field

Today we had a field trip scheduled. We were planning to go to a field trip to The Farm's corn maze.

But it looked like this out my window.

And this.

I asked Braeden if we should still go.

He said, "Why not?"

I said, "Well, you know, the rain?"

He didn't get it. He looked at me like I was considering canceling a beach party because of too much sunshine or a sledding party because of the snow.

He said, "What does rain have to do with it?"

Then I said, "Never mind," and found my boots and umbrella.

It's what happens when your children have webfeet. You try to keep up.

On the wagon (covered wagon) before getting too wet:

Then he got a little wet.

Or a lot wet.

Emma theatrically lamented water spots on her glasses.

Braeden navigated us through the corn maze shaped like the state of Washington.

I stayed dry-ish.

We watched Emma and Braeden re-enact a ship wreck (very dramatic and thrilling).

It was a good time.

And when a field trip starts like this:

You know it better end like this:


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